Sunday, December 16, 2012

grace filled Christmas

i don't do Santa or elf on the shelf. not due to theological reasons, it goes deeper than that. the concept behind both is that if kids are good enough, on their best behavior, they will get gifts. it sounds good in theory, but i battle a lifelong struggle against this exact mindset. if i'm just good enough, things will be ok. however, this is not how God works. before we were ever deserving, He made the ultimate sacrifice for us. we didn't earn it and we never will. but Grace doesn't stop there.

James 1:17 Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.

notice it does not offer the disclaimer "if we follow the rules" or "if we are deserving" or "if we are good enough". He bestows His gifts simply because He loves us. He already knew we didn't deserve them and we'd never be good enough. He gives them anyway.

many times, we confuse the blessing that comes with obedience with reward for our actions. we are blessed when we obey God because His way is right, therefore it blesses our lives. He's not rewarding us for following the rules. He's showing us the fullness of life that abides in Him. sometimes, it's when we are at worst that we really get this concept. when we are entrenched in sin, staring up from the pit, knowing with every fiber of our being how wretchedly undeserving we are. then He will pour out incredible blessing on us in the midst of it. and we really get that we didn't earn it, we've never earned it. He just loves us. no strings attached. He loves us when we're good and He loves us when we're not.

i have battled this erroneous mindset for most of my life. that i have to strive to be good enough, while never feeling i can achieve it. that i just have to keep working harder and trying more and toiling in vain. it hasn't been until i felt so depleted i was totally incapable of working any more, that He reminded me of His grace. that He blessed me beyond measure when i was so undeserving. by definition grace is unmerited assistance. i don't have to be good enough, He loves me anyway. just the way i am.

so what does this have to do with Santa and the Elf? i don't want my children to go 34 years before getting this. i want them to know that they are loved no matter what. they don't have to earn my love, my gifts or my time. they never have to be good enough for a savior to redeem them. that Christmas is to celebrate the most precious gift of all and one month of "good" behavior is not warranted to receive it.
it's free. it's grace.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


i just realized i haven't written since i announced the house situation. i am so sorry. our crazy life has gotten crazier and blogging has been way down the priority list. so let's get all the updates out of the way first...

the House:

we started looking at houses immediately. it was depressing. they were either filthy, very small or way out of our price range. not to mention, who wants to rent to a family of 7 with a foreclosure? i was trusting that we would be taken care of while simultaneously terrified of where we may have to live. after several promising leads fell through i was really starting to panic. then a good friend called and mentioned that a house on their street had been empty for a year. she wasn't sure if they were open to renting it but offered to get the owner's number for us. i called him the next day and talked to him for an hour. the house was his parents and his grandparents before that. it had been empty since his mother went to a nursing home. he hadn't rented it because he was "waiting for God to bring him the right people." we got off the phone after agreeing to meet and see it that night. after we hung up, my stomach was in knots. i had been somewhat evasive with him about our situation and i felt sick that i hadn't been totally honest. i immediately texted him what was going on with our house and told him i would totally understand if he wasn't comfortable with it. he was fine. we met that night and the minute Eli and i walked through the door we knew this was our house. it's far bigger than we ever hoped for (almost double square footage of our previous house) and right in our lower price range. we were floored. the owner is an amazing man and he seemed confident that we were the people he had been waiting for. we made plans to move the first weekend of December. it has four bedrooms, three full baths, and lots of room for small people. it is literally a dream. it is in a beautiful neighborhood, some of our best friends are a few houses away and we couldn't be happier. here are some pics....

 Master bedroom... on the main floor, behind the kitchen. AWAY FROM THE KIDS! ;)

 Opposite wall of our room, our bathroom on the left and the door to the laundry room on the right!

 TV room... which means NO tv in the living room, yay!

 dining room which will hopefully have a table eventually :)

 kitchen, which was originally pale blue with a birdhouse border. 

living room with gas fireplace. 

 View from the dining room. those double sets of french doors go out to a porch :)

next up... the Job:

so to add to all the changes, i started a job today! my first job out of the home in ten years. the position is at an agency here called Marriage Resource Center. it's a really incredible agency. they aim to lower the local divorce rate, enhance marriage relationships and build stronger families. i would encourage you to check out the website, i'm really blessed to be a part of it. it means a major change in our household, especially for esme. she's never gone to a sitter and is used to being with me most of the time. add to that moving in the same week. a LOT for a three year old to process. she is not napping and rarely sleeping but i hope she will adjust soon. thankfully i have really wonderful people watching her and it's only part time.

lastly, thank you to all of the people that have been praying for us, support us and generally bring encouragement. i may not get to respond to all, but know that it means so much to us. we continually ponder how we are blessed to have the people in our life that we do. it amazes us. thank you!